Harry Christophers

Conductor

Harry Christophers

Harry Christophers is known internationally as founder and conductor of The Sixteen as well as a regular guest conductor for many of the major symphony orchestras and opera companies worldwide. He has directed The Sixteen and its orchestra, The Symphony of Harmony and Invention, throughout Europe, America and the Far East. He has performed at some of the world's most prestigious festivals including Salzburg, Mostly Mozart in New York, the BBC Promenade Concerts, the Prague Spring Festival and in Vienna's Musikverein, Sydney Opera House and Tokyo Opera City, gaining a distinguished reputation for his work in Renaissance, Baroque and 20th century music.

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Spirit, Strength & Sorrow

Spirit, Strength & Sorrow

Five settings of the Stabat Mater


Casciolini:

Stabat Mater

Firsova:

Stabat Mater

Kõrvits:

Stabat Mater

Martin, M:

Stabat Mater

Scarlatti, D:

Stabat Mater a 10 voci


Spirit, Strength & Sorrow is the staggering result of The Sixteen’s third collaboration with the Genesis Foundation and demonstrates, once again, their joint commitment to nurturing new artistic talent. This CD features three brand new settings of the Stabat Mater from emerging composers, Alissa Firsova, Tõnu Kõrvits and Matthew Martin alongside those by Claudio Casciolini and Domenico Scarlatti.

Harry Christophers writes: ‘I find it staggering to think that it was only eight years ago when I first met John Studzinsiki. We had been invited to perform a very special work by Will Todd, aptly written for sixteen solo voices, which John had commissioned for his birthday. From this moment began a fruitful, meaningful and, above all, inspirational collaboration with John and the Genesis Foundation. Every project since has emanated from John’s devotion to the Catholic faith and his love of the wonderful poetry which encapsulates Christianity as well as his laudable mission to promote and nurture young talent.’

“Of the three contemporary works featured, Matthew Martin's is technically the most ambitious...It's an absorbing, highly accomplished piece of vocal writing, tailor-made to stretch a choir of The Sixteen's ability...For sinuous beauty, though, Domenico Scarlatti's gorgeous ten-part setting takes some beating, deliciously accompanied here by theorbo, harp and organ.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2015 ****

“All three [new works] are worth hearing and Domenico Scarlatti’s “Stabat Mater” makes a highly enjoyable Baroque companion for them.” Financial Times, 29th November 2014 ****

“All three [new settings] are touching and effective: imaginative in their choral sonorities and colouring of the text, skilfully balancing a strong feeling for tradition with a distinctive individual voice...At moments in their intimate and elegiac performance of the Scarlatti I wanted a dose of Latin theatricality. But in the new works their singing, technically and expressively, is beyond criticism.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2015

“Three new responses to the text, commissioned by John Studzinski’s Genesis Foundation, are sung here with faultless clarity by the Sixteen...Each is a significant contribution to the repertoire, sitting proudly alongside more familiar settings from Scarlatti and Casciolini, and all meticulously directed by Harry Christophers.” The Observer, 16th November 2014 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - January 2015

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Monteverdi: Vespro della beata Vergine (1610)

Monteverdi: Vespro della beata Vergine (1610)


Grace Davidson, Charlotte Mobbs (sopranos), Simon Berridge, Jeremy Budd, Mark Dobell (tenor) & Ben Davies, Eamonn Dougan (bass)

The Sixteen, Harry Christophers

Harry Christophers writes: ‘Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 is quite simply one of the greatest works of sacred music ever written and without doubt the most varied and inspired before Handel and Bach began composing their oratorios and passions. Where it was written, why it was written and who it was written for are actually immaterial – suffice it to say it was quite simply his calling card for the big job, Choirmaster at the resplendent Basilica of St Mark in Venice. Its variety alone makes it unique – thrilling psalm settings with virtuosic writing for both multi-part choir and instrumentalists to exotic and sensual settings of texts from the Song of Songs for solo voices. Every movement is full of luscious harmonies, drama and an evocative musical language which is so beautifully constructed for all concerned.’

“Christophers sees Monteverdi attempting here to 'speak through singing'...and this, he tells us, allows the conductor 'the most amazing licence' - of accentuation, speed and declamation. Hence the character accounts of Laudate pueri and Dixit Dominus, where pauses are ignored or inserted and the relative speeds between their duple and triple sections are rarely the same.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2015 ****

“Exemplary all-round standards are the draw here, whether solo voices, choir or instruments.” Financial Times, 15th November 2014 ****

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Bach, J S: Motets, BWV225-230

Bach, J S: Motets, BWV225-230


Bach’s six motets are among the greatest achievements of choral polyphony in the baroque period. This early recording by The Sixteen and Harry Christophers is a jewel in Hyperion’s catalogue, containing performances of utter joy, rendered in sonic splendour.

“Splendid. A wonderful achievement, one that only renews our admiration for Bach. It has been six, maybe twelve months since I heard a record that impressed me as much as this one. Don’t pass it by” American Record Guide

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Palestrina: Volume 5

Palestrina: Volume 5


Palestrina:

Missa Iam Christus astra ascenderat

Canticum Canticorum, cycle of 29 motets: No. 13

Canticum Canticorum, cycle of 29 motets: No. 14

Canticum Canticorum, cycle of 29 motets: No. 15

Dum complerentur

Loquebantur variis linguis

Veni Creator Spiritus

Veni Sancte Spiritus

Magnificat quarti toni


Harry Christophers and The Sixteen continue their exploration of Palestrina's great work with the fifth disc in their celebrated series. This album features a selection of Palestrina’s music for Pentecost including his Missa Iam Christus astra ascenderat. Alongside the Mass are motets from the Song of Songs. The Song of Songs are among some of Palestrina’s most sublime and expressive works and, as with previous disc in the series, this album includes three of them. Dedicated to Pope Gregory XIII, Palestrina’s style of writing for these sensual texts demonstrates what variety and intensity of feeling can be conveyed with the simplest of means.

“The subtle ebb and flow of the speed in Vox dilecti, for example, exactly matches the quickening emotions at the sound of the voice of the beloved, and the ascending musical motives at the call for her to rise up and come hither at beautifully handled by the singers in Surge propera.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2014 ***

“The balance of voices, sensitivity to the text, ebb and flow of phrases, and uniformity of sound, all suggest that these discs will be listened to decades from now.” Early Music Today

“The energy that The Sixeen bring to their Palestrina is admirable, though I continue to hope for a surprise in the format to keep the series on its toes.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2014

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Coro Sixteen Palestrina - COR16124

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Music of the Kingdom

Music of the Kingdom


includes:

Britten:

Homage: Final Dance

Carver:

Missa Dum sacrum mysterium: Sanctus Carver: Benedictus

Gibbons, O:

Great King of Gods

Handel:

Coronation Anthem No. 1, HWV258 'Zadok the Priest'

Tallis:

Sing and glorify heaven's high majesty

Turges:

From stormy windes


This new compilation from The Sixteen brings together some of the finest works written for, and in celebration of, Monarchs and the Kingdom. From Turges in the 1400s to Britten in the 20th century, whether for magnificent state occasions or private devotion, the Kings and Queens of Great Britain have inspired and patronized some of our finest and most enduring music.

Included on this disc are two of Handel’s glorious Coronation Anthems written for the coronation of King George II; excerpts from Purcell’s music for Queen Mary; and the Sanctus from Robert Carver’s sumptuous Missa Dum Sacrum Mysterium which may well have been sung at the coronation of James V. Taking centre-stage however, is Tallis’s dazzling Sing and glorify – the English setting of Spem in alium which was adapted for King James I to honour his son Henry, the newly-anointed Prince of Wales.

On display are centuries of superb compositions from the CORO catalogue of recordings made so far, with the exception of one specially recorded track: William Byrd's fabulous O Lord, make thy servant Elizabeth.

Coro - COR16122

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The Voice of the Turtle Dove

The Voice of the Turtle Dove


Davy, R:

Ah, mine heart, remember thee well

O Domine caeli terraeque creator

Mundy, W:

Vox Patris caelestis

Adolescentulus sum ego

Sheppard, J:

Libera nos 1 & II

In manus tuas I

In manus tuas III

Gaude gaude gaude Maria


In 2014 The Sixteen returns to its grass roots for the repertoire of the 14th Choral Pilgrimage tour as it revisits the golden age of Renaissance polyphony in England. In this new programme The Sixteen presents a stunning selection of music by John Sheppard, Richard Davy and William Mundy including Sheppard’s magnificent Gaude, gaude, gaude Maria, and gem of the Tudor period Libera nos; Davy’s monumental O Domine caeli terraeque creator which was written in one day at Magdalen College, Oxford; and Mundy’s great antiphon Vox patris caelestis.

“The artistry of The Sixteen makes this disc worthwhile. More satisfying, however, would be if the group would re-engage with under- or never-recorded Tudor masterpieces, rather than with its own earlier performances.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2014 ****

“the soloists do well by [Davy's] Ah, mine heart, and Mundy's Vox patris caelestis, engagingly fleet of foot, belies its length and concludes the disc very satisfyingly.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2014

“these performances have about them an aura of musical supremacy, which, coupled with the choir's technical magnifience and the recording's sumptuous sound, makes this an outstanding disc, even by the phenomenally high standards The Sixteen has long since made its own.” International Record Review, May 2014

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John Tavener: Ikon of Light

John Tavener: Ikon of Light

Special Commemorative Edition


Tavener:

Ikon of Light

Hymn to the Mother of God

The Lamb

The Tiger

Eonia

Today the Virgin


"I consider Ikon of Light to be one of my most important works…I recall the splendour and magic of the sound of The Sixteen at the recording, and in particular, at hearing them sing Eonia for the first time. Heartfelt thanks to Harry Christophers and The Sixteen." Sir John Tavener.

Sir John Tavener was one of Britain’s leading composers of the last 50 years. To commemorate his extraordinary life and works The Sixteen is re-releasing its acclaimed recording Ikon of Light in a special limited edition slip-cased version with a newly commissioned booklet essay. The new version will only be available for one year from December 2013.

The album was originally conceived for Sir John’s 50th birthday and covers a wide range of his celebrated choral output including Eonia, which Sir John especially requested The Sixteen record, alongside Ikon of Light, The Lamb and The Tyger.

Despite the mystic beauty of his music, John Tavener's place in Western music was a controversial one. His desire to create musical ikons for a time in which he believed 'man had lost his belief not only in God, but also in himself' was provocative. Yet part of the attraction of his music must surely arise from its symbolic nature, a reflection of his deeply-held Orthodox faith.

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Joy to the World

Joy to the World

An American Christmas


Bassi:

Quem pastores laudavere

Billings:

A virgin unspotted

Holst:

In the Bleak Mid-winter (Cranham)

Ives, C:

A Christmas Carol

Lauridsen:

O magnum mysterium

Leontovich:

Carol of the Bells

trad.:

In Dulci Jubilo


Handel and Haydn Society, Harry Christophers

CORO is delighted to announce the first ‘studio’ recording with the Handel and Haydn Society. The disc, which is a co-production with WGBH and was recorded at their studios in Boston in January, will feature an eclectic selection of Christmas music including traditional carols using American tunes and Christmas motets by Charles Ives and contemporary American composer, James Bassi. The disc also features two carols by the ‘father of American choral music’, Bostonian William Billings, and the popular Carol of the Bells by Ukranian composer Mykola Leontovich with its instantly recognisable four-note ostinato motif. Boston’s internationally acclaimed Handel and Haydn Society was founded in 1815 and is considered the oldest continuously performing arts organization in the U.S.

It has given the American premieres of major works by Handel, Bach and Haydn and has won a Grammy Award. It will celebrate its Bicentennial in 2015.

“Does Christmas sound different in America? Partly. Over half of the selections here are American in origin...Fascinating also to compare the American style of singing, more vigorous in attack and more forcefully enunciated, with our own more mannerly tradition.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2013 ****

“the 24-strong Handel and Haydn Society give lively performances of an interesting choice of Christmas music.” Sunday Times, 22nd December 2013

“Christophers ensures a British accent at times, with the 18th-century William Billings, jovial and rough, rubbing against the velvet charms of John Rutter and Herbert Howells. The singing is both tasteful and robust, and conveys a genuine community spirit” The Times, 13th December 2013

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Palestrina Volume 4

Palestrina Volume 4


Palestrina:

Missa O magnum mysterium

A solis ortu cardine

Jubilate Deo

Ad te Levavi Oculos Meos

Ave Regina caelorum a 8

Fasciculus myrrhae dilectus meus

Ecce tu pulcher es

Introduit me rex

Magnificat Quinti toni

Deus enim firmavit

Surge, illuminare


This album features a selection of Palestrina’s music for Christmas including his largely unknown masterpiece, the Missa O magnum mysterium. Also presented are several unusual hymn settings amongst them A solis ortu cardine—a setting of a chant hymn for Christmas morning.

Alongside the hymns are motets from the Song of Songs. The Song of Songs are among some of Palestrina’s most sublime and expressive works and, as with previous disc in the series, this album includes three of them. Dedicated to Pope Gregory XIII, Palestrina’s style of writing for these sensual texts demonstrates what variety and intensity of feeling can be conveyed with the simplest of means.

Completing this recording are three double-choir motets (a genre in which Palestrina was unsurpassed), Ave Regina, Iubilate Deo and Surge illuminare.

“In these performances there are fine examples of large-scale architectural sense, as in the driving clarity of Surge illuminare, and of textural sensitivity in the brilliantly perky imitation of the 'Sicut erat' section of the Magnificat...The singing throughout is well-blended and precisely tuned.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2014 ****

“Christophers and The Sixteen achieve a sinuous, sensuous choral texture that ranges from the austere propriety of the masses to the devotional passion of Ecce, tu pulcher es.” Early Music Today

“The Sixteen turn in a spirited, at times even sprightly performance [of the O magnum mysterium mass]” Gramophone Magazine, November 2013

“[Palestrina's] soaring, arcing lines and setting with conviction of the Mass and other liturgical and biblical texts are wondrously realised in The Sixteen's continuing exploration of the composer.” The Independent on Sunday, 8th September 2013 ****

Coro Sixteen Palestrina - COR16114

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The Queen of Heaven

The Queen of Heaven


 

Regina caeli

plainsong

Allegri:

Miserere mei, Deus

Its Evolution

MacMillan:

The Strathclyde Motets: Dominus dabit benignitatem

The Strathclyde Motets: O Radiant Dawn

The Strathclyde Motets: Videns Dominus

Miserere

Palestrina:

Missa Regina caeli: Agnus Dei I-III

Improperium exspectavit cor meum

Stabat mater

Vineam meam non custodivi

Regina coeli

Pulchrae sunt genae tuae

Missa Regina caeli: Kyrie


Now, in its 13th year, The Choral Pilgrimage stands as testament to Harry Christophers’ ongoing mission to bring a wide variety of sacred music back to the kind of buildings for which it was written.

Allegri’s Miserere is the single most famous piece of sacred music ever written. Although it is instantly recognisable with its haunting tones, mythology surrounds it. This year’s Choral Pilgrimage allows Harry Christophers to explore its evolution and enduring appeal. This new version of the Allegri Miserere entitled ‘Its Evolution’ as performed on the Pilgrimage has been recorded and appears on this disc.

James MacMillan dedicated his powerful and emotional setting of the Miserere to Harry Christohers and The Sixteen who premiered the work in 2010 and recorded it shortly afterwards. Alongside Allegri, MacMillan is one of the few composer to ever set the full Miserere to music. His exquisite version is one of the highlights of this year’s programme.

Arguably the greatest composer of liturgical music of all time Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina is often billed as ‘The Prince of Music’ and by some ‘The Saviour of Church Music’. The 2013 tour includes some of his wonderful music for Easter including the Stabat Mater a8 and excerpts from the Missa Regina caeli.

Coro - COR16118

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